Mar 21, 2014
Four-time JUNO Award winner Isabel Bayrakdarian joins Tafelmusik at Koerner Hall for The Rival Queens, April 9-13, 2014
Download the PDF
Toronto, March 20, 2014 … “One of Canada’s hottest sopranos” (La Scena Musicale) Isabel Bayrakdarian joins Tafelmusik at Koerner Hall on April 9, 10, 12 and 13 for The Rival Queens, a concert programme inspired by the famous rivalry between two 18th-century opera superstars, Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni. The Rival Queens programme features music by baroque masters including Handel, Vivaldi, and Telemann, among others. Audience members are invited to an informal “Talkback” with select musicians including Ms. Bayrakdarian after the April 9 performance.
The Rival Queens marks the first time that Isabel Bayrakdarian has shared the stage with Tafelmusik since the 2003/2004 season when she joined the orchestra for Cleopatra, a programme of baroque arias that was later recorded for CBC Records and went on to win a 2005 JUNO Award. Ms. Bayrakdarian describes this collaboration with Tafelmusik as “one of the highlights of my career.”
The first half of Rival Queens is devoted to arias by Handel, Hasse, and Bononcini composed for and made famous by Bordoni, while the second half features Cuzzoni’s signature arias written expressly for her by Handel and Bononcini. The instrumental selections on the programme include Handel’s Concerto grosso in D Major and the Overture to his opera Alessandro; Zelenka’s Sinfonia in A Minor; Vivaldi’s Concerto for strings in G Minor; and Telemann’s Concerto in D Minor for two oboes and bassoon.
18th-century opera stars Faustina Bordoni and Francesca Cuzzoni were bitter rivals both onstage and off, and disputes between their fans were so heated that on one occasion, a riot erupted in the opera house. Composers ratcheted up the tension by casting them together in their operas, and the singers added fuel to the fire by competing with each other for the best arias. Cuzzoni’s diva antics were so excessive that Handel reportedly threatened to throw her out the window when she refused to sing one of his arias. “Is it any wonder then, that when envy, rivalry, vanity, and sheer desperate need for survival intersect in real life, it eclipses the operatic plot in its sheer drama, and a catfight on stage isn’t that far-fetched after all,” asks Ms. Bayrakdarian in her programme notes for the concert.
The idea for the Rival Queens programme was conceived by former CBC producer Neil Crory, and was developed and researched by Music Director Jeanne Lamon, in collaboration with Isabel Bayrakdarian.
Isabel Bayrakdarian is an eagerly anticipated visitor to opera houses and concert halls the world over. On the opera stage her roles range from Gluck’s Euridice and Debussy’s Mélisande, to Poulenc’s Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites and Janáček’s Vixen. She’s appeared regularly at the Canadian Opera Company, Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Paris Opera, Covent Garden, and in Houston, Barcelona, Salzburg, and Los Angeles. Ms. Bayrakdarian has appeared in concert with the premier orchestras of New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal under an array of leading conductors. Ms. Bayrakdarian’s latest recording, Troubadour and the Nightingale, features a new work by her husband, the composer and pianist Serouj Kradjian, and is nominated for a 2014 JUNO Award.
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, founded in 1979 and led by Music Director Jeanne Lamon since 1981, is one of the world’s leading period performance ensembles. The Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, under the direction of Ivars Taurins, was formed in 1981 to complement the Orchestra. The orchestra performs more than 50 concerts each year at home in Toronto, and travels extensively around the world to such places as this season's tour destinations: Japan and South Korea, Carnegie Hall in New York City, BachFest Leipzig in Germany, cities across Ontario, and a tour with Opera Atelier to Versailles, France. The choir and orchestra’s multi-platform recording label Tafelmusik Media was launched in January 2012, along with the Watch and Listen site, Tafelmusik‘s digital concert hall. Tafelmusik has a rich discography of more than 80 CDs recorded on the Sony Classical, CBC Records, Analekta and Tafelmusik Media labels. Since 1991, Tafelmusik has received nine JUNO Awards and a Grammy Award nomination. Tafelmusik is the Baroque Orchestra-in-Residence at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto and operates its annual artist training programmes, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute and Tafelmusik Winter Institute.